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8 cheap ways to move across country

Save money on your next move with these 8 tips

Profile picture of Jessica Render
by Jessica Render ConsumerAffairs Research Team
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How much does it cost to move across the country?

The cost of a cross-country move varies based on the size of your household as well as your starting and ending points. Generally, the average cost of moving cross-country ranges from $2,000 to $5,000. If you have a large house, prepare to spend more. You can also expect to pay more If you have a lot of antiques or heavy items, such as pianos and freezers.

The good news is there are simple ways to save money on a long-distance move and make the entire process less stressful. These long-distance moving options can help you get your belongings to your new home without going over your moving budget.

8 cheap ways to move across country

Most people move for a new job, to attend school or to be closer to family. Whatever your reason is for moving, you’ll want to save money wherever you can. Here are eight of the best ways to save money when you move:

  1. Purge your belongings
    If you lighten your load, you’ll pay less in moving costs. Have a yard sale, sell belongings on internet sites, donate what you can to charities and stop acquiring new things before you leave. Taking a few steps to declutter your home will make your move easier and cheaper.
  2. Make your move seasonal
    Summer is the most expensive time to move because families are getting settled before the new school year starts. Leases tend to expire towards the end of the month, so you’ll have more people booking moving companies the last week of the month than the first or second. Try to move at a different time of the year, in the middle of the month or on a weekday when there’s less competition for movers.
  3. Shop around for the best prices
    Don’t book the first mover you talk to. Get estimates from long-distance movers that specialize in cross-country moves and compare prices. Remember to look at what services are included — a lower price from a company that calls themselves a discount mover might not include extras a higher-priced company provides at no cost.
  4. Look for moving discounts
    While you’re shopping around, don’t neglect to ask for available discounts. AAA moving discounts are available for members, and some moving companies provide reduced rates at certain times of the year (generally during their slower seasons, like winter).
    If you are a veteran or active military member, look for military discount moving companies. A military moving company offers discounts for members of the military, veterans and their families and will understand what specific additional needs you have for a military move. Popular companies like Budget Truck Rental  and Penkse offer reduced rates to military personnel.
  5. Consider doing the move yourself
    Shop around to find the cheapest truck rental for moving. Truck rentals are reasonably priced through companies like U-Haul and Budget Truck Rental, and most of these companies offer one-way rental trucks. If you really want to keep your costs low, pack up your car with only your most critical belongings or hitch a trailer to your car. It’s a good way to save money and start over. Handling the move yourself with just the bare essentials is one of the cheapest ways to move long distance.
  6. Use a portable moving container
    One of the cheapest ways to move out of state is to use a portable storage container. Mobile storage units can help you cut down on costs and stress by keeping all of your things in one place until it’s time to relocate. Companies like PODS provide a great way to store your belongings before and after the actual move. A cross-country trip could cost as little as $1,500.
  7. Ship your things
    You can also travel with your stuff while someone else does the driving. If you don’t have furniture to move and you’ve managed to reduce your load significantly, you can ship what you need to your new home using FedEx, UPS or the U.S. Postal Service. You can get on a bus or a train or even book a flight across the country to your final destination. You may have to pay for extra baggage fees, but those might cost a lot less than what you pay a moving company.
  8. Be frugal, and save money wherever you can
    Instead of buying boxes from a retailer, visit grocery stores and department stores to collect the boxes that they would normally recycle. See what you can find on Craigslist and remember that the packing tape you buy at a discount shop is probably just as good as the packing tape you buy at a high-end retailer. Accept help wherever you can, whether it’s your family offering to help you pack or a friend donating frequent flyer miles for your trip.
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  • Type of moves: Long distance
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Cheap move FAQ

Are moving expenses tax deductible?
Previously, your moving expenses could be counted as a tax deduction if you relocated for a job, but the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2018 suspended these deductions until the 2025 tax year.

According to the IRS, there are still some situations in which your move could be tax deductible, but it’s not common. Active-duty military relocations are the most notable exception. You can use the IRS interactive tax assistant to complete a short quiz to find out if your move is tax deductible.

Can you negotiate with moving companies?
You can try. As with any service, prices may be negotiable depending on the policy of the provider. The best way to gain negotiating power is to gather multiple quotes that you can use in your conversations with competitors. Also, don’t be afraid to be upfront. There’s no need to skirt around the issue. If you want to ask for a lower rate, ask for one. The worst thing that can happen is you're told no and accept the higher rate or keep going in your search.

Once a price is quoted, try asking if there’s any wiggle room on the price if you were to book on a different day or the week or if you qualify for any discounts based on age, military status or memberships. Are there any services you could add or remove to be more comfortable with the quoted price?

What is the cheapest moving company?
This depends on the specifics of your move, your starting and finishing locations, the size of your move and what services you want to enlist. Compare companies and get multiple quotes to find the best price.
What is the cheapest time to move?
You may find reduced rates in colder seasons or in the middle of the week when moves are less common. Other movers may keep their prices consistent year-round. Don’t be afraid to ask if any rate fluctuations are available when gathering quotes.
How do I find moving discounts?
Ask! Many movers provide discounts for veterans and active-duty military personnel, but don’t forget to ask about senior discounts or discounts for certain professions, like teachers, law enforcement officers and first responders.
How do I estimate moving costs?
You may be able to estimate the cost of your move by looking at the average moving costs for the size of your home. The number of hours it takes in moving labor is most significant in the cost of a local move, while long-distance movers use weight and distance traveled to determine price.

Preparing to move out of state

Taking up residence in a different state requires you to do a number of things, from turning on the utilities in your new home to turning over the keys at your current home. If you want to save money on your move across the country, you must be prepared and organized.

Put together a moving checklist that will keep you on track and create a budget for everything you’ll need to fund, including deposits, tips and gas. Planning as much as you can and as early as you can helps keep your move within budget and stress-free.

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    Profile picture of Jessica Render
    by Jessica Render ConsumerAffairs Research Team

    As a member of the ConsumerAffairs research team, Jessica Render is dedicated to providing well-researched, valuable content designed to help consumers make informed purchase decisions they can feel confident making. She holds a degree in journalism from Oral Roberts University.